Skip to comments.History What-If: Could Custer Have Survived the Battle of Little Big Horn? [June 25, 1876]
Posted on 06/25/2019 7:36:18 AM PDT by Red Badger
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And less than a hundred years later we were on the Moon.
There was a TV movie called The Trial Of General George Armstrong Custer.
They totally dumped on Custer as an impotent vain glorious fool whose mind was gone after he survived the massacre.
To the prosecutor’s withering questioning, Custer just kept answering “Command decision”.
One big disadvantage for Custer was that the Indians had better rifles than the troopers.
Custer had three Gatling Guns at his disposal. But Custer thought they would slow him down, so he left them behind at the fort.
This guy at the link below says Custer was right in declining those guns. They were completely unsuited for the terrain. As for me, I’d have taken those guns, and just moved a little slower (20-20 hindsight, I know. And there is no glory in slow-moving forces.)
Somewhere in there is lost the possible strategic move by Custer to save Terry’s force. Who the indians were really gathered there to fight.
Very good point that is often lost among non-gun people.
The Indians were in large part armed with Winchester repeating rifles, while Custer's troops were armed with single shot Trapdoor Springfields.
I believe the author is wrong on that point.
Custer had faced Indians in many previous battles, where he was almost always outnumbered. The numbers were not what he misjudged. What he did not account for was that the Indians had changed their battle tactics, shifting from a hit and run mode to a full assault mode.
Custer could have survived The Battle of Little Big Horn, if he had....
1. properly conducted reconnaissance
2. rested his men and horses
3. NOT broken up his fighting force into smaller units
4. NOT underestimated his opponents
These are fatal mistakes for any combat commander
Had Custer won, it would be just a footnote in Western History books like so many other battles most don’t know about.
UNLESS some eastern group, of what back then were called “Indian worshipers” publicized his victory as a “massacre” as a group of Bostonians did Sand Creek and the Washita, an attack on Cheyenne who had just had a 200 man war party come back from raiding in Kansas.
The story would be changed to reflect that Custer hit the tribes at LBH when the happy Indians were doing all happy things and all the warriors were conveniently out “buffalo hunting”, a common excuse used today.
Today’s movie makers, make it look like Custer woke up one morning, looked out the window, and said...”It is such a nice day I think I will go out and kill me a bunch of Indians!”
was he fondling steel ball bearings ?
I’ve never heard an explanation as to why Custer wasn’t issued repeating rifles. But I haven’t researched it, either. I can imagine some Quartermaster took the heat. But Custer should have seen to it.
There are conspiracy theories such as Grant and other top brass set Custer up for failure.
Custer faced Indians in many previous battles, where he was almost always outnumbered?
Because the only battle, I recall Custer fighting during The Indian Wars was The Battle of Washita River, where Custer lead a force of 574 soldiers against an Indian encampment of 250 with maybe 100 warriors.
For all you Custer and Gatling Gun fans out there, here’s a novel that supposes that Custer did bring his machine gun battery to the Little Big Horn.
(I don’t have the book. So I don’t know how it ends. Maybe Sitting Bull captures the guns, and retakes Chicago. Now that would be an ending with a twist.)
what frantic thoughts raced through George Armstrong Custers mind
One surely must have been “Damn...thats a lot if Indians....”
And a hell of a lot more of them too.
I’ve often wondered if Custer’s 210 men, had they been armed with Henry repeating rifles and plenty of ammo instead of slow-loading trapdoor Springfields, would have been able to survive.
Superior numbers facing them, yes... but repeaters in the hands of men who knew how to use them effectively might have made a difference.
We’ll never know.
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